TRAVEL HERE: AND SO DOES HELLO FRESH
Trying out all the available meal kit plans does not come without some challenges. While they are basically all doing the same thing, trying to juggle several of them at once can trip you up. That’s how I ended up with two boxes of food in one week. We’d skipped a week to go out of town and somehow, though I meant to just get Sun Basket, I also got Hello Fresh. See what I go through for you guys!
A Color Change
I guess it would be no surprise that Sun Basket’s (SB) color theme is yellow. Right away I thought their pictorial box was more engaging than the text heavy Hello Fresh (HF) box, but something about that crisp Blue Apron (BA) box still gets the points in my book.
Opening Up the Box
SB used the same grocery bag packing method as Hello Fresh, however, their bags were smaller and I was able to put them in the refrigerator. That put them ahead of Hello Fresh, but behind Blue Apron.
In the box were several pieces of literature. A nice welcome brochure topped the pile. Next I realized SB sent a magazine-like booklet instead of the cards I had gotten from the other two. Since I had already started a binder to hold my recipe cards for future reference, SB was bucking the system. I’m calling it a tie between HF and BA, with SB making a foul.
The magazine is attractive, but it has all the recipes SB offers for the week, so in my opinion they are wasting paper. I only needed the recipes I had ordered. What’s more, they assumed I already know how to cook, so they completely did away with the how-to pictures I found so helpful with the other two services. I do know how to cook, but it was nice to have a picture to refer to when I was following the directions. Since I liked BA’s recipe card better than HF’s, BA steps into the lead.
No one else would probably even notice this, but there’s a difference in all the boxes’ insulating materials, too. SB uses some generic foam insulation they have cut-to-size inside the box. They tell you to roll it up and send you tape to keep it rolled up. It was such nice sheets of foam that we put them in the attic in case we needed something like that. HF uses a different style of foam covered in a shiny material that is designed to fit the box, rather than generic stuff cut-to-size. My friends at BA have wonderfully customized pieces that have all kinds of wonderful BA messages on them. Points to BA.
Preparing the Meal
SB follows HF’s method of preparation, instead of BA’s, which means you prep the ingredients for each portion of the meal as you work through them, rather than getting all that out of the way ahead of time. However, they also print that part of the instructions in a different color ink, so that people like me, who want to do all the peeling, chopping and stuff at first, can follow their inclination. So points to BA. SB is only slightly less desirable and HF loses this point.
To me, the SB instructions were easy to follow, because they were specific about times and not so dependent on do-this-until-that-happens, as HF had been. However, I had that whole magazine thing to move around the kitchen with me and there are no pictures with the instructions. By the end of the preparation, the book was a mess, just like the cards, but I still had two more meals to prepare out of the messy book. Taking all that into consideration, Blue Apron is still winning in the preparation portion of the meal.
SB edged close to BA when it came to the items they expect you to provide. Olive Oil, salt and pepper are the only things they require you to keep on hand. HF expects you to also keep butter on hand for them. So SB and BA should be in a tie, except that I’m a real fan of butter and in my opinion, BA has better butter than SB and the packaging is superior. BA butter comes in a little round foil covered package. Both the consistency and the flavor are excellent. SB butter is in a small plastic tub and looks like it was cut off the same stick of butter as is in my refrigerator. Points to BA and HF loses a point.
The biggest SB fail was in fulfillment quality. On day one, there was a frozen (read that useless) cucumber, a lemon with a big spot on it and an iffy shallot. The salmon was disappointing, too. It said it was Wild Yukon River Wild-caught Salmon., but you could have fooled me. Looked run-of-the-mill. Pretty much the same fish I reject in Kroger’s seafood department. The following SF day there was no paprika packet in bag for the paprika butter.
I’m not giving any points here and it’s one of the most important categories. BA has the highest quality, but they regularly leave stuff out. There’s usually at least one failed ingredient a week and their steaks are gristly. HF gets everything in the box, but it falls short on being the quality I expect. If I wanted their ingredient quality, I could get it at Kroger. I’d still have to do the planning and shopping, of course, but part of what I want in the service is superior ingredients.
So how was the food. Come back next week and I’ll tell you.